We’ve all been there. Staring at a menu or wandering the aisles of the grocery store thinking: On a scale of carbs to kale – where carbs are dietary sabotage and kale is the reigning health supreme – how good-for-me is this meal? But when the primary macronutrient of leafy green veggies is carbohydrates, it’s safe to say that our scale is skewed, sister.
From the moment Regina George asked us if butter is a carb and Kim Kardashian attributed her curves to a devout Atkins-style diet, “carb” has been universally blacklisted as a four-letter-word. But why the bad rap? Carbs, short for carbohydrates, are an essential part of any healthy diet and refer to food compounds comprised of starches, sugars, and fiber. They are a vital source of energy for the body, providing necessary fuel for both physical (from walking to weight training and HIIT to LISS) and sedentary (brain power) activity. If you’re workin’ on your fitness, let carbs be your witness.
Truth be told, not all carbs are created equal. Based on the glycemic index, or how quickly your body converts carbohydrates into simple sugar, foods are categorized as “complex” or “simple” carbs, often labeled as “good” and “bad”, respectively. (You can read more about the glycemic index here.) However, fast-acting simple carbs like fruit are super beneficial surrounding a sweaty workout session and shouldn’t be totally dismissed. This is why I prefer to categorize carbohydrates as either whole or refined, or “good” and “bad”, respectively. In the tale of two carbs, whole carbohydrates refers to whole grains, fiber-rich veggies, fresh fruit, and legumes and refined carbohydrates refers to white bread, sugar, processed cake and cookie products, soda, white rice, and refined pasta products. What does all this mean? It means that, with the best choices in mind, you can continue your sweet love affair with carbs, girl.
Behold… ALL THE #CARBS!
Whether boasting beneficial nutrients (shout out sweet potato) or packing a protein punch (I’m looking at you sprouted grains), here are some of my fave sources of carbohydrates:
*Calculating carbohydrate intake is specific to each person’s individual lifestyle and fitness goals. I highly recommend counseling a registered dietician for dietary suggestions.